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Richard Levine: Day Labor

Here, morning lines up on corners.

Need brick work done, concrete? 

Middle Easterners.  That corner.  Green market, 

restaurant work?  Mexicans.  There.  Poles 

do good interior work, but take the Irish 

for plumbing and electrical.  That corner.

.

This is New York, drinking coffee in plain 

blue paper cups at dawn.  In every tongue, 

the dream begins with showing up.  Then,

your kids grow straight American teeth 

and attitudes you will want to beat out of them, 

but they’ll read and write and never have to stand 

on corners at dawn, waiting to be called to do 

grunt-work no Americans want to do.


Copyright 2021 Richard Levine

A retired NYC teacher, Richard Levine is the author of  Richard Levine: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2019).

Day laborers waiting for work (photo: New York Times)

2 comments on “Richard Levine: Day Labor

  1. Vincent Spina
    April 6, 2021

    Right to the point! What “grunt” work is.

    Like

  2. Barbara Huntington
    April 6, 2021

    Ah but some of those children are those I had as premed students who want to give back. They have learned persistence and tirelessness and caring from those parents. Immigrants make us rich in many ways.

    Like

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